Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Surging Bulleit brand unveils its first standalone distillery

The new Bulleit distilling complex
It's been a long climb over a 30-year existence, but the Bulleit brand has recorded double-digit sales growth in recent years, riding the bourbon popularity wave to become the fifth-largest-selling  bourbon in the world. And on Tuesday, it officially opened its own distillery.

Bulleit, founded by Kentuckian Tom Bulleit but now owned by spirits giant Diageo, is sold in 60 countries, which creates a strong demand for product. Thus, the new $115 million distillery near Shelbyville, KY, about 30 miles east of Louisville.

"This distillery is the most important thing we can do to grow our business," said Ed Bello, Bulleit's U.S and global brand director. "We have big ambitions to continue to grow the brand in the U.S. and expand it globally."

Despite just opening the facility, Diageo already is talking expansion. The new plant is capable of producing up to 1.8 million proof gallons annually, or about 750,000 9-liter cases. "We will be quickly pivoting to start looking at what the expansion plans could be," Bello told CenturyLink.

The Bulleit brand includes rye whiskey. Bourbon represents about two-thirds of its current sales, which rose another 25% in the first half of this fiscal year. U.S. markets account for the bulk of sales.

Founder Tom Bulleit, a lawyer who now serves as a brand ambassador, said at the opening, "It's a dream realized." His great-great-grandfather, tavern keeper Augustus Bulleit, made whiskey in the pre-Civil War era. The brand website says he vanished while transporting his barrels of bourbon to New Orleans and the family enterprise languished until Tom revived it in 1987.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

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